June 19, 2013

Tupper Lake, Minerva, Newcomb school budgets pass


---- — Voters approved second-try budgets for Tupper Lake, Minerva and Newcomb central schools Tuesday.

All three districts had put up spending plans the first time around, on May 21, that exceeded the state tax-levy cap, and then chose to pare back spending and ask the voters to weigh in again.

Newcomb, alone, exceeded its state limit with its revamped proposal.


Tupper Lake Central School’s proposal, reduced from $17,233,794 to $16.9 million after its defeat in May, passed 561-488.

“But the bus proposition failed,” Superintendent Seth McGowan said Tuesday night.

For a second time, voters were asked to authorize the purchase of two 66-passenger buses at a cost of no more than $230,500. The tally was 475 “yes” votes and 561 “no.”

McGowan expressed bewilderment over the rejection of the proposition.

“If we maintain the same number of buses, which we should do, it means we’ll be paying a lot more in repairs,” he said. 

“And now we’re off cycle with state aid, so in a couple years we’re going to get crushed,” he said, as new buses will be needed when the funding isn’t available.

“It means that resell on the next year (if another proposition is put up and passes in 2014) is going to take a hit, probably $26,000 or $30,000.

“I really thought people would understand it’s not like going out and buying a new car.

“(But) I’m glad the budget passed,” McGowan said.

In May, the bus proposition got shot down 426-750.

The newly passed budget cuts seven jobs — a science teacher, foreign-language teacher, social-studies teacher, school psychologist, speech-improvement specialist and two special-education teachers.

The science and social-studies teachers will be laid off; the rest of the positions will be eliminated through attrition.


The tally for the $5.4 million Newcomb Central budget, which required a supermajority to pass, was 204-49.

“A very decisive vote,” Superintendent Clark “Skip” Hults said.

The first budget had included a tax-levy increase of 24 percent, topping the state limit set at 7.16 percent; the new spending plan’s levy increase is 12.7 percent.

“We reduced $405,000 from the budget, our entire staff took a pay freeze for the 2013-14 school year,” Hults said.

And the people weighed in.

“We had good turnout at all of our meetings.”

The district put out a suggestion box as well.

“One of the things that people said was, ‘You listened to us.’ And they were grateful, I think,” Hults said.

The first budget’s failure was a mandate, he said.

“We listened to that voice, and we made sizable adjustments.”

Voters also OK’d a proposition to spend $50,000 to buy a low-rise, 28-passenger bus, by a vote of 189-60.

That purchase had been part of the first budget.

“This time, we decided we would separate it from the budget, and let the people decide as well,” Hults said.


And voters approved Minerva Central School’s $4.95 million budget with a tally of 183-106.

“I’m glad to report such good news,” Superintendent Timothy Farrell said after the count. 

The new spending plan cut about $150,000 from the $5.1 million proposal that went to voters in May. And its tax-levy increase was pared back to 2.97 from 8.93 percent.

The state cap for this year was 3.97 percent. 

“Our spending is lower than it was last year,” Farrell compared the newly passed budget to the one for 2012-13. “Fortunately, we don’t have to go any further.”

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